Local entrepreneur Nitin Kamath, the developer behind Aztek Cove, is expected to hold a public meeting this afternoon at the River Center Branch Library to discuss the controversial project and proposed accompanying economic development district.
The plan, initially announced in 2018, calls for a two-building business complex to be built along Highland Road near the Country Club of Louisiana. The beleaguered $35 million project has faced several hurdles since being approved in 2018 without a public hearing.
After years of delays as lawsuits regarding the project made their way through the local court system, Kamath this year moved to establish an economic development district over the property. If approved, the district would—through tax incremental financing—use 2% of any new sales taxes generated within the district to help cover the cost of the new development.
Several parties oppose the proposal to create the new economic development district—including Together Baton Rouge, residents of the Country Club of Louisiana, and Council members Rowdy Gaudet and Dwight Hudson.
Gaudet held a public hearing over the project—planned to be built over a three-year period—last week, but Kamath did not attend, instead opting to schedule his own meeting this week.
The Metro Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the creation of the district.
While it was previously reported by Daily Report in 2018 that Kamath was working with Louisiana Economic Development and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to get the project off the ground, neither agency responded to requests for comment before this morning’s deadline.
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome met with the developer previously and attended a 2022 ribbon-cutting for the project along with Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, but is not a part of the process to approve the current proposal, according to spokesperson Mark Armstrong.
“That process next heads to the Metro Council with an opportunity for a public hearing,” Armstrong says. “At this point, the future of the project—whether it passes or fails—is in the hands of the Metro Council.”